Thursday, May 29, 2008

Texas Beer Culture

I know I know, two posts in one day. This one is a quick one. Its a topic that I want to write a much longer post on, but in the meantime to whet your appetite, head over to Beer Advocate where there is a good discussion going on whether or not Texas can support a beer culture. (a hint on where I stand, not only can we support one, we ARE, and its growing every day). More to come from me in a much longer post. If you have your own thoughts on our great states Beer culture, feel free to comment below.

Its ok to be bitter

This week I was pleased to see a beer article in the esteemed New York Times. The NYT wine writer/guru Eric Asimov wrote a rather well written expose on Bitter. Bitter is a British term for their 'ordinary' beer. This is not high alcohol, high hop, or even high flavor beer. These are session beers that can be consumed in the midst of conversation. Full of flavor but balanced, these are not extravagant beers, but beers to drink by the pool on a hot Texas day. As with wine, when summer comes we may start to turn away from the big bold beers (or deep dark red's) and turn to more gentle fare such as a bitter (or white or rose wine). One can not live by Extreme beer alone.
The article is a good summation of what is a bitter (even going so far as to take the reader briefly through the difference between cask bitter and bottled).
The rest of the article was the rating of the 25 bitters the panel tasted. The panel consisted of Mr. Asimov, Florence Fabricant, owner of Bierkraft Richard Scholz and Alex Hall who runs the website Unfortunately for you and I we can't get all of their top 10 here in Houston. The good news we can partake in their top rated Bitter: Left Hand Sawtooth Ale that's available at Spec's, Central Market, and Whole Foods. Other beers that we can get our hands on in the area include: Fuller’s London Pride (#3), Black Sheep Ale (#4), Fuller's ESB(#5), Morland Old Speckled Hen (#6) Greene King Abbot Ale (#7),.
Good info to have when you're looking for a good tasty beer on a hot Texas day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale

First off hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend. I know I did, it was the first real get together my wife and I have had since we moved into our new house. Fun times were had. This is a sad post for me, my last Oskar Blues beer to post on (at least until I get some Ten-Fiddy). But as with the others I've tasted this one is in a can, which is not only good for the beer, its good for the pool patio, no broken glass here. This one is OB's flagship and noted for being the first hand-canned craft beer per their website. Since this beer showed up in our fair market it has quickly become my go to everyday non Saint Arnold's beer. I know that's a mouthful, but the point is its a great every day beer.
The Beer: Beer weighs in at 6.5% with 65 IBU's. It pours a bright orangish amber with a quarter inch head. The nose is full of grapefruit, pale toasted malts, other citrus notes. The mouth is smooth and crisp, great effervescence, hoppy, grapefruity even some orange and apricot notes.. However the mouth has some good balance to it, as hoppy as it can be there are some good bready pale malt notes as well. Its almost a IPA and not a traditional (think Sierra Nevada Pale ale) pale ale. Very good, this one gets a straight up B+ from me. Here's what the folks at BA have to say.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Beer News

A couple of quick Beer related news notes on this beautiful Houston Friday afternoon.
- First off an article from MSNBC on yet another Beer Merger. This one's big time folks. In news that could change the global economics of beer, Belgian SUPER Brewery INBEV may be bidding of American Super Brewery Anheuser Busch. If those two giants merge, you have one huge corporation with wide ranging imports, distribution resources, etc. Using A-B's distribution could INBEV's beers edge out some local micro-brewery's at the local supermarket? Bet on it.

- Secondly, I've been talking about Colorado Brewery Oskar Blues lately, so this news is rather timely. Colorado's only Whiskey Distillery Stranahans has contracted Oskar Blues to make their mash. You may remember that Stranahans is owned by Mr. Stranahan who owns Flying Dog, formerly of CO, however when Flying Dog left for Maryland recently Stranahans whiskey was left without someone to make their mash for them. They had always wanted to continue to use a local craft brewery and it looks like they've found a good one. What does Oskar Blues get out of the deal (besides money of course)? They get to use Stranahans used Whiskey barrels, leading me to ask the obvious question. Could a Barrel aged can beer be to far away?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oskar Blues Gordon Ale

Another beer, another can. I guess I'm on a roll of late, but I'm just getting a big kick out of all the great beer that has come to Texas of late packaged in cans. Its a good trend. Speaking of new beer, there is lots coming to our fair state in the next few months. As the new beers arrive you'll see me posting on them as quickly as I can. Oskar Blues has three mainstay beers, and all of them have arrived in Texas. Old Chub which I tried last week, Dales Pale Ale, and this one Gordon's ale, named after Gordon Knight a Vietnam Vet who lost his life fighting a wild fire in Lyons, CO home of Oskar Blues. Oskar Blues website calls this one a strong ale, a mix between an Imperial Red and a double IPA. Sounds tasty.
The Beer: The beer pours a reddish brown with a thin taupe colored head and weighs in at 8.7%. Big hops on the nose, scratch that, HUGE hops on the nose. Grapefruit and piney. The mouth has great carbonation which I think helps bring down the hop intensity as its not nearly as big as I feared. Citrusy and piney with notes of apricots and pale malts. Not a lot of alcohol flavor but the finish does have some nice hop filled resin notes. Great lacing along the glass. Overall this is a strong showing from OB, this one gets a B+ from me, here's what the folks at BA think.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Newsweek Article on Beer

While perusing I came across a pretty good article on craft beer from Newsweek. The first part of the article covers the amazing growth of craft beer, highlighting the quick rise and fall of the 90's to the re-emergence that we are seeing currently. However the main part of the article focuses on a very informative interview with Charlie Papazian. Some really good points on what Mr. Papazian and company are doing in D.C. working with The Small Brewers Caucus in helping change laws and tax codes. Recommended reading for sure.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Oskar Blues Old Chub

Well, I guess I must be hitting on a theme, two canned beers in one week. Oskar Blues is new to the Texas market, but I actually made it to their brewery not to long ago and found their beers to be extremely good. The package of course is canned which as I've mentioned before, I really appreciate and am glad that more craft breweries are doing it. Not only does Oskar Blues can all their beer, they were the first craft brewery to do so back in 2002. Not bad.
The Beer: This one is a Scottish Style beer along the lines of a Wee Heavy weighing in at 8.0%. The beer pours a very dark brown almost black topped with a creamy cappuccino colored head. The nose has notes of raisins, coffee, and toffee. The mouth is chewy, smooth. Rich roasted malt flavors abound, little hop flavor here. Chocolately, esspresso. Very nice and silky smooth. Another canned beer, another A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA had to say.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Southern Star Pine Belt Pale Ale

YES! Finally the time has arrived. Texas's newest brewery Southern Star out of Conroe has released it's first beer. If you've read this blog much you know we've followed them since day one, and I've been extremely excited to try their beers. Before I get into the tasting a bit more on the package. The beer is packaged in cans, but not just any cans mind you, but Big Boy cans (for a visual think of the big Young's Double Chocolate Stout can's). I really really love the packaging (even if the primary color is Aggie Maroon, not that I'm from UT or any Texas school for that matter). I like the alternative packaging, getting away from bottles helps keep away oxygen or anything else that could damage the goodness that is beer. Plus its great to take down the Guadeloupe River. OK enough on the packaging, how did it taste?
The Beer: Pouring the beer out of the can into a snifter glass it comes out an orangish amber with a frothy thick off-white colored head. The nose is hoppy, piney, and grapefruity with some toasted bready pale malty flavor. The taste is surprisingly refreshing, notes of hops, but not as strong as I would have thought from the nose. Very balanced, with understated yet extremely flavorful hops. Nice resin-y finish, full of citrus and piney notes living up to its name. Smooth, very nice, this one gets an A- from me. Great job on their first beer, can't wait to try more. The folks over at BA seem to like it too!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Session #15 Announcement

Its that time of the month, fresh off the roundup of the latest Session, comes the announcement for The Session # 15. For the uninitiated, The Session is a monthly virtual beer tasting event. The event is hosted each month by a different blogger, and each with its own theme. This month's session is hosted by Geistbear Brewing Blog, the theme is Beer Festivals. From the blog announcement:
As Summer approaches we are in full swing of beer festival season, so it seemed the perfect topic for the June Session. Do you have a favorite beer festival you like to attend or a particular memory of inspirational moment at a festival? Or perhaps talk about what you would like to see out of festivals or perhaps the future of them. All is fair game, I look forward to seeing where people take this topic.
In all honesty (and I'm sure I may upset some Session goers here) I'm not so thrilled by this month's session. Not everyone has an opportunity to go to a beer festival. Around here, there aren't any festivals that I've had a chance to attend. There is one or two out Austin way, but that means taking a weekend off to go which I can't always do. Now I've been to the Mecca of Beer Festivals here in the US, Great American Beer Festival, but I've already written about that, so I won't do a retread.
Just a bit of a rant here, but after weeks of non-beer themed sessions, I was hoping for something leaning more towards a specific style (Summer session ale perhaps?) that would give everyone an opportunity to participate in. Oh well, maybe next month. As for what I'll post on this month (if I do), it will probably relate to the latter portion of his post what I would like to see out of a festival.
The due date for this month's session is D-Day, June 6th, so come back and check it out. Even if I may not be excited I know that there will be plenty of good posts.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Session # 15 Roundup

Well another Session that I didn't have a chance to participate in has passed by. This time the monthly event was hosted by the folks at Boak and Bailey. The theme was a fun one: How did you get into craft beer. This was one I was really looking forward to writing on, however due to my work schedule at the end of last week I was unable to. Ok ok enough with the excuses. Go check out the round up of all the posts for this session, and stay tuned for the announcement of next month's event.